all words: Mitchell London
all photos: Dakota Fine
NPR’s Michelle Martin started the evening with a question to the crowd: “Who here has a girl crush on Tina Fey?”
Like most of you reading this article would have done (or did), I put up my hand, as I am a Tina Fey fan; a TinaFeyn, if you will. Having watched my share of SNL, 30 Rock, Date Night*, and Mean Girls, I consider myself passably fluent in the language of Fey. I only bring this up to make the following point: In comparison to seemingly every single other person in that room, I might as well have never heard of Tina Fey. The 12-minute-sellout crowd was constituted exclusively of SuperFeyns and UberFeyns.
The palpable Feyndom was so great at the Sixth and I synagogue that at several points in the evening, I worried that those in the balcony would pass out a la the Beatles first Ed Sullivan Appearance and plummet toward those in the floor seats, none of whom would have noticed because they were so enraptured by the lady in the blazer on stage. She could have gotten a laugh from this crowd by reading the ingredients list on a can of dog food, or worked up a full-room swoon by recounting an excursion to Home Depot to buy paint thinner. Everyone, everyone, was gorging from the trough of her bossy hands. Including – perhaps especially – our host for the evening, Michelle Martin.
During the course of the event, Tina brought to life the reasons why the room adored her: she was witty, extremely quick on her feet, and poised throughout the hour plus we spent with her. She talked about her experience as head-writer on SNL and star/ writer/ creator of 30 Rock and her new book, Bossypants. At Martin’s constant urging, she talked extensively about how her gender has affected experience in showbiz, and about race in 30 Rock, her relationship with Amy Poehler, and a certain former VP candidate.
The questions, though a bit run-of-the-mill,** led to a fluid, interesting, and quick-paced conversation, with some very entertaining story-nuggets. She discussed how John Belushi used to intentionally bomb (“tank”) skits written by women, how she felt unintentionally patronizing in her post-show conversations with Sarah Palin, and how the Huffington Post got their facts wrong w/r/t racism on 30 Rock. Good wholesome fun, to be sure, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the interview was the equivalent of watching George Lucas get interviewed by the kid in your grade school class who dresses up like a Storm Trooper for Halloween every year.
When Martin opened the floor for questions, the microphones on both sides of the room were immediately flooded with UberFeyns. Asking questions ranging from “Will Liz Lemon ever find the one?” (A: I hope so) to “What tips do you have for actors who want to make it” (A: Don’t go to LA [unless you're really pretty]) to “What are you talking about at the end of SNL?” (A: nothing), the questions continued the evening’s general theme of OHMYGODILOVETINAFEYSOMUCH.
The answers were mostly pithy, funny, and void of substantive information; the only spoiler the rabid crowd was able to wrest from her was that Condi Rice would be appearing on the show as Jack’s former flame. As the Q&A ended, the 6th and I staff took over and made the following announcement: “It’s now time for the book-signing. If you have number 1-300, you can stay in this room and wait. If your number is 301-600, go downstairs and get some dessert.” As I made my way out of the cattle car of devotfeys, patiently lining up from 1 to 300, I found that I was basically the only one leaving. That poor sap holding number 600? Definitely has at least two signed copies of Bossypants.
Punch Lines out of Context:
“And I was like, ‘When Oprah Winfrey suggests that you’re over-extended…’”
“No one ever told me to lose weight… They just didn’t put me in front of a camera until I did.”
“Alec Baldwin is definitely serious about running for office. Me? I think it’s for suckers.”
“Can I borrow a cup of sugar? I’m trying to get a hummingbird to drink out of my penis.”
“I was really afraid of Eminem.”
*in which her presence made an otherwise unbearable movie slightly less unbearable.
** What was it like to play Sarah Palin? really?